Cześć rodzina!!! What an amazing week it has been in POLAND! I say Poland instead of Kielce because this week particularly I traveled to 4 different towns and cities in the south! Last Tuesday, we drove 4 hours with our senior couple to Wrocław for Zone Conference! The city was very big compared to Kielce, it was literally a whole new world. We stayed the night with the Wrocław elders and had an amazing breakfast the next morning at the Rynek. Our conference was amazing. I learned how to create a plan for myself that will help me become the man I want to be on my mission and when I return home in 21 months.
This country is like nothing I have ever seen before! Fall is in the air and every road is lined with vibrant forests and beautiful hills covered in hundreds of shades of yellow, orange, red and green. (I'm a little bit in love with this country.) There are ancient cathedrals and castles everywhere and the villages are all so unique and stunning. The roads are narrow and wind through valleys and hillsides and acres of woodlands. There is so much peace that comes from driving through the vast countryside of Poland. I hope I'm giving you a good visual lol! I feel like I am driving through the mountains of Utah mixed with the valleys in Rochester, New York! Also, the weather has been so beautiful, but it is starting to get darker alot earlier in the day! Yikes!
Our second trip this week was in order to administer the sacrament and give a blessing to a very elderly woman in our branch. Her name is Siostra Sałata, and she lives in a small town an hour outside of Kielce to the south! She was the sweetest lady every and had a hard time standing up straight! She uses a cane and stands naturally at a 90 degree angle. Her home was very humble and I was grateful to be there for her in her time of need! Haha there was only one down side... Head cheese. Have you ever heard of that? I hadn't until after I ate the stuff. It is literally the meat and parts of a cow's head and ears and everything except the brain basically, all mushed together and put into a sausage roll and into a clear blob of jello... I seriously had to throw up a prayer because I didn't think I could do it. Oh my word I should not complain because she was so sweet to feed us! My companion and I choked down as much as we could and when she brought more I wrapped it up and put it in my backpack to throw out later😂 I'm awful I know! But I had to do what I had to do! That wasn't the end of our food experience... after that she brought out pierogi for us, and it was ALOT. We each ate like 12 pieces. I left grateful, but I not wanting to eat again for at least another week! My companion says that doesn't ever happen but of course after I show up it had to! I'm ok with that because it was a super funny memory😂 ah... that was so much head cheese. I never want to look at sausage again!! Żartuje haha!
Our third trip was Saturday! This has been the best experience I've had in Poland so far! Let me start at the beginning.
Wiesław is a man who has spent the last two years trying to decide whether or not the Book of Mormon is from the Devil or if it is truly the word of God. He has developed a testimony all on his own of the truthfulness of the Book and says he is 99% sure that Jospeh Smith was a prophet. He told us that no man could have written the Book of Mormon and that it has to be from God. He also told us that since he has been trying to better follow the Word of Wisdom, not drinking coffee has reversed the effects of his high blood pressure, which was not always the case! That was a miracle all in itself and a testimony of the help that God gives when we are truly wanting to obey his commandments. We have skyped Wiesław 3 times and answered questions he has had about the Gospel. In our last meeting, we extended the invitation to him to prepare to be baptized on the 23rd of November! He was thrilled, we were thrilled!!! He told us, I need to stop smoking! I smoke 2 packs of cigarettes each day! He also wants his family to discover the truthfulness of the Gospel and join him in baptism and stop smoking. He has 11 children. Saturday we started the day by studying the churches addiction recovery program for him. It is crazy to be almost 19 and be able to be qualified to teach and instruct people about how they can recover from addiction. I am learning so much about so many different things here. After our study we received a message from Wiesław saying that he could no longer be apart of our church and that his wife and him had a huge argument about it. He said goodbye and wished us the best of luck in Poland. I was devastated. How could this happen? He was there! He knew it was true! I needed to humble myself before the Lord and ask for his directions. We felt we needed to bear witness of the truthfulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We then asked if we could still come over that day to meet with him and his family. He was relieved and so were we. We were not going to give up. The Lord would not let us! We traveled south to Busko Zdrój about an hour ride and then were picked up by his son in law and drove another 45 minuree through country roads to the humble home of Wiesław. An old, rustic farmhouse on acres of farm land where lived 13 people, a few chickens and goats and dogs and who knows what else. We were greeted warmly upon arriving and were given a fantastic homemade dinner! All sorts of meat (classic), potatoes, beets, breads, and so on! But it wouldn't be a true Polish meal without some sort of meat stuffed in a jello! Haha, that was the only thing I couldn't finish, I was still in shock from the day before! Their children were so sweet and so happy! I played with them for a long time and truly felt their spirits! We laughed and talked and introduced them to our american families by showing them pictures. The picture of my sister and I when she was getting baptized really struck Wiesław and his wife. They saw how beautiful my sister was and it brought an unexpected peace over them. After we had all gotten comfortable, the mom finally began to open her hearts to us. We testified and taught about the Great Apostasy and the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ through Jospeh Smith and the power of the Book of Mormon. Wiesław I could tell was very grateful to able to have us there. He also wanted to share his experience and beliefs and testimony with his wife. Her heart was softened. We are all born with the light of Christ. When we desire to know truth, that light can radiate as we hear the message of the restoration. I prayed in that humble house for authority from God and the ability to speak with the gift of tongues to express my testimony to this woman and her family of 11 children. As I did my eyes swelled with tears as I felt the Lord guiding and directing my words and allowing the Spirit to penetrate the hearts of the people in that humble home. We felt as if we were living in the time of Jospeh Smith, teaching a new gospel to a humble family who had never heard of the true gospel of Jesus Christ. After our meeting we were invited to come back again which was a miracle and Wiesław still wants to, and plans on being baptized next month. We will continue to teach and help him and his family overcome some of their difficulties! That is why we are here! As we drove away, Wiesław and his family stood on their small porch together and waved to us as we drove away into the wheat fields and the beautiful Poland Sunset! It was such a defining moment for me to be in the presence of those wonderful people. The entire time I was there I kept asking myself, what would Jesus do if he were sitting here right now? Then I remembered that I wear the name of Christ and I represent him. That fact alone gives me so much strength and helps me to become better each day. When we arrived home, a drunk man was trying to fight us on the street because we were from America. Luckily we met a very kind woman who escorted us away to safety! It is so true that the Lord protects his missionaries. I know that.
Yesterday we traveled with Brat Neiburg, Sister Hola and her family and Jarek to Katowice on a bus!!! So much fun!!!! I had time to read the first 70 pages of Saints which is incredible! I LOVE Jospeh Smith and the history of the Saints. I had a question that needed answers to yesterday and I prayed and received inspiration. My question was, why do I feel so weak? Why do I miss home and think this mission is so hard?
My answer came simple. It was almost as if I heard Jospeh Smith whisper to me;
You feel that you are weak because you know not where you come from.
That was my answer.
Not only do I not fully understand my Heavenly Home, but I need to seek to gain a testimony of the Saints who gave their lives and suffered so that I could be here today. That is why I decided to read Saints! I felt it would help me recognize the sacrifices of the past and give me strength in times of weakness.
We arrived in Katowice and there is only one thing to say...
That city stole my heart from the very beginning! Wow!! It is incredible! I loved seeing all the people, meeting the members, feeling the culture there and guess what?!?! I saw 3 hip hop studios!!! It is a super hip hop type of city and for that I was grateful. It is my goal to use Hip Hop to share the gospel in Poland and to create relationships with the people here. Hip Hop is my passion in life. The Lord knows that it is important to me and I know that as I pray and seek guidance he will give me opportunities to use my talents to bond with these people. Katowice would be an amazing place to see that happen. I love that city. I cannot wait to visit again! Our District Conference went great! President Chandler and his awesome wife gave beautiful talks and the spirit was so strong with all of the members! There were alot of people who were American! It was crazy! Anyways it was a great experience and I loved every minute!
This week I have learned alot about the ways in which the Lord works. His ways are mysterious and His ways always give the best results. Many times we aren't given the answers we desire until after the trial of our faith. Other times we are not given the answers we seek because we have not diligently done everything we can before asking the Lord. What does the Lord require of us in order to answer our prayers? A sincere desire, a broken heart, a contrite spirit, and might I also suggest a humble mind. Blessing never come to me if I boast of my own strength. All credit goes to my Father in Heaven. I am nothing, absolutely nothing without Him. In these Latter Days we cannot be fair weathered in this Gospel. It is not just my church, it is not just your church. This is the church of JESUS CHRIST. Never be ashamed of that. Wear that title proudly and if you are persecuted, rejoice in the opportunity to be able to comprehend just a LITTLE better, the sort of things that Jesus Christ suffered on behalf of you. Our God is a loving God. But he sent us here for a reason and his law has been decreed and cannot be taken back. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. There are only two things that I could not live without, and they are the most important to me, I feel very strongly about them. The Gospel of Jesus Christ and Eternal Families. That is all a person needs to be truly happy. I am here because I belong to an eternal family and have seen the miracles first hand of living gospel standards. I am here not to condemn or to call out people who are Catholic or who don't believe in Heavenly Father. I am here to share my love with these people, I am here to serve them as Jesus Christ would, I am here because I love God and I want his children to be happy on earth and to be able to return to a heavenly home. Men are that they might have joy. I must do my part so that I can stand blameless one day before my Heavenly Father. I am not perfect nor will I ever be. But I will strive for it and I will set my goals high. I will be a little better each day. Be a representative of Jesus Christ, every day. All the time! Dont pretend to be someone you are not, please. It is not worth pleasing the world instead of pleasing the Being who not only created but sent you to this world. As a true representative of Jesus Christ I promise each of you that read my testimony that if you will live as a disciple of Jesus Christ and follow his teachings, reading the Book of Mormon and seeking to know of its truthfulness, you will receive personal revelation and develop a relationship with your Father in Heaven. Your life will never be the same and I promise that you will be happier than you ever thought possible. I known its not easy. Nothing worth it has ever been made easy to obtain. Only you can find out for yourself. Time is out. Decide today who you serve! I promise if you choose your Heavenly Father you will never regret it! Please grow to love Him! He loves and longs to help you! You just need to put in the work! I just need to put in the work. It is so hard sometimes, but the Lord hasn't failed me yet. The price of salvation is not cheap.
I know that once you embark to serve God you leave middle ground forever.
I know 100% that the Book of Mormon is true.
I know 100% that Jospeh Smith was a prophet of God.
I know 100% that Kościół Jezusa Chrystusa Świętych w Dniach Ostatnich is the true and restored church of Jesus Christ. I am not afraid or ashamed to say that it is the only true church upon the earth and that it was Restored by Heavenly authority.
I am proud to be a son of God and a proclaimer of truth. Come what may, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I apologize for the long email, I hope you all made it to the end without falling asleep! I know these things are true. I love you all with my whole heart. I testify of the truthfulness of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. You are all so incredible thank you for everything!!! I hope to hear from you. 😊
P.S, funny story... I left my hair gel in Wrocław on accident and my companion said he had some I could use. So all week I've been using it and I literally thought it was hair gel and it was all written on in Polish so I couldn't read it, but I just found out last night that it was actually aftershave. Hope I don’t lose hair or anything crazy haha!😂😂😂